Fantastic gaming voyage

Fantastic Arcade: A gaming convention worthy of its name

Fantastic Arcade: A gaming convention worthy of its name

For the third year, Alamo Drafthouse hosts its mini gaming convention, Fantastic Arcade, an event which focuses on lesser-known, independent gaming titles and has become a staple at Fantastic Fest.

This year, the organizers brought together a solid group of games — some highlights include recent iOS hit Super Hexagon, Gunpoint and Lone Survivor — and a list of events ranging from happy hour tournaments to big name panels from Sony and Adobe, to their very own award show.

In addition to the list of panels and games, Fantastic Arcade 2012 introduced a novel concept, what the Drafthouse called their “Gamemaking Frenzy.”

What started as a small hodgepodge collection of indie games has grown in to an attraction all its own, that just happens to run alongside a film festival.
 

The event invited the fest’s game developers to spend as many hours in side a 48-hour window as they could, furiously program a new game based on Alamo favorite cartoon Adventure Time.

No stranger to the Drafthouse or its devotees, Adventure Time is an obviously exciting choice to kick off the inaugural event. The best of what is created will be shown off on a dedicated Adventure Time cabinet all week. Totally algebraic.

The arcade, which is set up in the Highball’s ballroom, is stocked with traditional cabinets, although not with games found at traditional arcades. Instead, these cabinets are filled with PC’s that are running different types of mobile or computer games.

The genius of this method allows for gamers to enjoy new wave type games in a nostalgic, almost lost format. Along with the stand-up cabinets, Fantastic Arcade has rows of tables with powerful gaming laptops set up, allowing for mouse and keyboard gaming, or on certain games, with a gamepad.

There’s something that appeals to everyone; arcade cabinets for those that miss the days of coin-op gaming, laptops running the latest in gaming innovation, and a bar. That serves alcohol.

Fantastic Arcade has been a welcome addition to the Drafthouse’s annual film festival, and a perfect fit for their signature style. The arcade matches the movie portion of the fest in its dedication to the obscure and hard to find.

A place to go and play games you might only ever get the chance to play on a phone, alongside fans just as eager to find that one game worth raving about, that deserves to played by everyone.

What started as a small hodgepodge collection of indie games has grown in to an attraction all its own, that just happens to run alongside a film festival.

Best of all, the arcade is free and open to the public. No badge or tickets required. The arcade will be up and running until September 25, so time is running out to visit one of the nation’s coolest, most relaxed gaming conventions. 

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Fantastic Arcade shares the same hours as the Highball and will be open until Tuesday. A full list of events can be viewed here.

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Welcome to the Fantastic Arcade! Photo by: Michael Graupmann
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Drafthouse programmer John Gross oversees the progress of Super Hexagon. Photo by: Michael Graupmann
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Many games are best played on computer screens and seats are at a premium in the laptop section. Photo by: Michael Graupmann
Austin Photo Set: News_austin sanders_fantastic arcade_sep 2012_poster